Gazetted in 1946, the Nairobi National Park is Kenya’s first established national park. Located approximately seven kilometres south Kenya’s capital city, the park is home to over 400 species of birds, as well as wildlife such as zebra, leopard, lion, giraffes, cheetah and many more.
Nairobi National Park is located a mere 10 minutes’ drive from the center of Nairobi, Nairobi National Park is undoubtedly one of Kenya’s most accessible and popular national parks to visit, with only a fence separating the park’s prolific wildlife from the metropolis. Despite being relatively smaller than some of Kenya’s other sought-after and sizeable national parks, Nairobi National Park boasts a vast and varied wildlife population, promising spectacular wildlife sightings and encounters.
Travelers landing at the Nairobi airport can literally see the park and potential wildlife as the flyover and land at the airport. There is nowhere else in the world where such a collection of wilderness and wildlife sits so adjacently to a major city. Only 4-miles (6.4 km) separate the center of the city from the wildlife in the reserve.
Nairobi National Park: The Experience
Nairobi national park is a unique ecosystem. The savannah ecosystem comprises of different vegetation types. Open grass plains with scattered acacia bush are predominant. The western side has a highland dry forest and a permanent river with a riverine forest. To the south are the Athi-Kapiti Plains and Kitengela migration corridor which are important wildlife dispersal areas during the rainy season. Man-made dams within the park have added a further habitat, favourable to certain species of birds and other aquatic biome.
The vast grass plain park has a perfect view of the Nairobi’s skyline, has scattered acacia trees and is home to numerous animals including the endangered black rhinos, lions, giraffes, leopards, buffaloes and a large range of bird species. There are no elephants at the park but you can interact with the calves at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Nairobi National Park: Birdlife
With over 500 bird species recorded, Nairobi NP probably gives Kenya’s capital the longest bird list of all cities in the world. The park’s substantial area of undisturbed grassland is of great importance for species such as the restricted-range Jackson’s widowbird, which breeds here regularly after good rains. Other grassland birds include ostriches, secretary birds and bustards. Nairobi NP is a popular birding destination and it’s easy to book a full or half day guided birding trip at short notice.
Nairobi NP offers good bird watching throughout the year, but the best time is from November to April when the migrants from Europe and north Africa are present. Many species are nesting at this time as it coincides with breeding season. The spectacular Jackson’s widowbird displays from March to May. Although good for birding, April tends to be very wet and is a less productive time for general wildlife viewing.